Adventures In NaNoWriMo – A Writerly Reflection

With the completion of my first year doing NaNoWriMo, and a few days to think, here are a few of my thoughts of this writerly party:

What Worked For Me

1. I wrote 50,000 words – a complete story within 30 Days!

2. The flu – When I wasn’t sleeping, or staring vaguely into space, I was writing. Normally, in that time, I would either be at work, doing household chores, or running errands. So, actually, having the flu twice technically gave me more time to write.

3. Daily Word Count – I learned my daily word count can be pretty high even when only using my commuting time.

4. Status bars – I like status bars. It’s like winning a prize on a video game. You might be seeing some more word count status bars appear around here.

80000000000000 / 100000000000000

5. The Commons on Flickr – Normally, I don’t use pictures as writing inspiration. However, for this story, I found some great pictures from The Commons that really brought the characters to life for me. When I was stuck, and sometimes, in my staring-off-in-space moments while sick, I checked out pictures, and found myself finding inspiration for the story. For example:

This picture partially inspired the personality of Jack Kingston, a dreamer and joker who is trying to understand his studious brother.

6. Creative-o-meter – I found it fun, and helpful for gauging myself. Also, it’s colorful.


7. The Story – I had a lot of fun writing the story itself. It is a lively mix of purposeful grandiosity, fairy tale magic, and late-Victorian-esque comedy. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, making the villain more villainous, and building the mysteries in the story. As I’ve mentioned before, part of the point of being a writer is to have fun.

What Didn’t Work For Me

1. The story’s ending –  If I weren’t trying to cross that 50,000 mark within 30 days, I probably would have waited a few days to let the ending simmer and come up with something centered on the characters. Right now, it is a grab-bag mess of ‘hey, let’s throw in the kitchen sink too!’. It falls into the Sequel Conundrum.

(The Sequel Conundrum is a term I just made up, and I’m looking at you, Pirates of the Carribean 3).

In a sequel, everything needs to culminate in an even bigger finale, so what do we do? Instead of two clipper ships battling it out in a grand duel, lets have twenty ships… and a maelstorm… and a giant squid… and aliens… and… unicorns shooting lasers from their horns!

I did come up with a good angle for defeating the villain, so I’ll probably be scrapping most of the last 2,000 words and focusing the final showdown.

UPDATE: 10/2015 – It took me two years to fix the ending of this book – partially due to other projects and starting grad school. I think waiting a few more days would have been worth

2. The flu – On one hand, it gave me more of an excuse to sit in front of the computer. On the other hand, it is a lot harder to write intelligently when your brain feels like it is about to ooze out of your head.

3. Planning – I had a plan. I tossed it out the window and formed a new plan by the seat of my pants. Maybe, deep down, I just like writing that way – which means I should start reinforcing my pants.

4. Socializing – I hoped NaNoWriMo would allow me to meet more fellow writers and expand my social-media-circle. Perhaps if I had been more active on Twitter and the forums, and knew of/attended local events, this might improve.

Maybe I’m spoiled because I’ve already built a solid network here on WordPress, have a great writer’s group, and supportive friends on Facebook.

I think the paradox is that we want to support each other through NaNoWriMo, but we also want to hunker down and get our story told.

5. Temporary Burn Out – Even as I finished the last words, I found myself tired of writing. I’m still recovering a bit from forcing myself to finish. Luckily, I’m doing some research for another story, so that’s allowing me to re-fill my creative-o-meter.

Questions – Things I’m Still Figuring Out

For Myself:

1. Would I have written an entire novella in the month of November without NaNoWriMo?

I don’t know. I can write a lot when the muse strikes, but I don’t know if I would have finished in 30 days without the fire of NaNoWriMo.

2. Would I do it again?

I’m still on the fence. On one hand, now I’ve had the experience – and it was pretty good. It was challenging, but not unreasonable. On the other hand, next year I plan on being a grad student. I will also need to work to eat and pay rent. That may cut into writing time. I also plan on not getting as sick. I’ll have to think about it.

For you, readers:

  • What topics do you enjoy reading here at the L. Palmer Chronicles? Do you want more updates on current my writing projects?
  • Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?
  • Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo next year?

Thanks again for everyone’s support, and congratulations once again to everyone who participated and/or won NaNoWriMo!

Side Note: Through Twitter, I discovered this: The Doctors as dinosaurs. Everything is better with a dinosaur.

20 thoughts on “Adventures In NaNoWriMo – A Writerly Reflection

  1. I was definitely not part of NaNoWriMo, because I used November to recuperate from the last novel-length story, and to get ready for this month’s Christmas ghost story. And I probably could have used another week recuperating. That said, it’s a good idea . . . particularly if you’re kind enough to yourself to go back, reread, and if necessary (it will be) rewrite. So kudos to you, for recognizing that, with regard to your ending!

    • Martha’s Children was an epic adventure, and makes sense you would need some time to recuperate and plan the next adventure.
      As for the ending of my project – I absolutely hate that point in writing where you are writing for the sake of pushing past a wall, knowing what you are writing is terrible, and will be scrapped. I’m okay with a mediocre first draft, but I don’t like producing a terrible first draft – or at least like a little time to sit and find the right way through.

      • There is one positive side to hitting that wall: sometimes it makes you rethink what you’re writing, and you can make it better. Of course, while it’s a long-term benefit, it hurts a lot while it’s going on!

  2. Congrats on finishing! I did NaNoWriMo this year and agree with a lot of what you said here. However, I didn’t finish. =( I got past the halfway point with my word count, though which felt really good! And I’m more in the habit of writing again. That was the point of NaNoWriMo for me — just getting into the habit again.

    Like you said, that word count goes up surprisingly fast when you sit down and write, even if it’s just on the commute or for an hour before you get ready for work, etc. That was a big surprise to me, but it gives me more of a push. I used to think, OH I only have an hour before I have to leave for this or that… there’s no time to write. But now I know better! =)

    • Half way is still an accomplishment. I was determined not to let my flu defeat something I knew I could do.
      One skill I’ve developed is being able to write five minutes here and five minutes there while waiting – and writing on a tablet helps a lot with this. I still prefer writing on a laptop, but the tablet weighs a lot less in my backpack.

    • Thanks!
      I use Quickoffice Pro – the old version, not the new version since they have been bought out by Google. I’ve tried other apps – Kingsoft is a free one that is pretty good. I have had all word processing apps crash on me – even on smaller documents – so, still looking for that. I like Quickoffice Pro because 1. I can actually find my documents in my device 2. It’s easy to transfer things to the cloud via Dropbox or Google Drive, 3. the interface is clean and easy to use.
      The new Quickoffice is free, and it is basically Google Docs for your Android. It’s almost too simple, and syncs directly with Drive, making it difficult to find your document on your actual device. Also, it crashes a lot more – but doesn’t lose what you wrote as easily. Not a fan yet.
      Do you have a writing app that works for you?

      • Thanks for all the specs., I’ll download it and try it out sometime this weekend! I’m a paper and pen man myself, although when I travel I either use ColorNote on my Nexus or Notes on my iPod. Yeah, Notes on my 4th gen iPod is cool, it makes for an intimate experience with only 3 visible lines at a time and uber spelling mistakes when typing. I like it though because I can email my work to myself and transfer it to my manuscript. I know, it is cumbersome, but it works for me! Writing with the good ol’ pen and paper is equally treacherous since I’ll have to transcribe it once I’m done. I find I write faster when doing it that way, though. Everyone has their own workflow, huh? 🙂

  3. Congrats, my friend!

    And I am envious: not because you had the flu, but because you can write during your commute. There’s no bus stop or train station near where I work. Sigh.

    BTW: I would definitely read a story about unicorns firing lasers out of their horns. Do consider it for your new big ending, won’t you?

    • It is really nice to have the time, and I’m very fortunate that it drops off about a 10 minute walk from my office.
      Also, I’ll have to work on a story that works with unicorns firing lasers.

  4. Congrats on your win! Sucks that you had the flu all the time though. 😦

    2013 is the first year I haven’t participated in four or five years, I’ve been so busy working these past few months that I haven’t had much time to write. I do need to jump back on the writing wagon though..

    • I did have about a week and a half between flu’s, so that’s something…
      I’m thinking next year I will be in a similar predicament as you, and too busy with other things to play. We shall see…

  5. Veeeeery impressive, I must say. While I’ve never done NaNoWriMo myself, first because of college and then because of the constant press of Other Projects to keep in the air, I’ve known several people who say they never would have gotten any writing done without deadlines but 50k words in one month? That’s just brutal.
    Adding blogging on top of that? Again – Impressive. Most impressive. Mayhap we’ll have a chance to read some of what you wrote in the future.

    • Other projects are always tricky to balance. Some of my blogging during November was to help me figure out what I was doing, and analyze the process.
      As for 50,000 words in a month, NaNo taught me that I can comfortably write about 30,000 with editing – and I would rather write 30,000 well-done words than 50,000 okay to not so good words.
      I also hope these stories will be ready for the big reveal in the near future. I think I’m almost there…

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  7. Pingback: The Month I Wrote A Novel: My 2013 NaNoWriMo Adventure | The L. Palmer Chronicles

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